Kagiso Rabada and other pacers who can overhaul James Anderson's Test wickets tally

Ashish Peter 28/08/2018
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Rabada looks most likely to come near Anderson's tally in the future.

England’s James Anderson just needs six more wickets to equal the tally of Test cricket’s all-time leading wicket taker among pacers, Glenn McGrath.

Currently sitting on 557 wickets, Anderson can go pass McGrath’s tally (563) within the next week should things go his way in the fourth Test between England and India which gets underway on Thursday at Southampton.

McGrath had recently stated that he does not see any other pacer coming near Anderson’s numbers once the Englishman breaks his record.

“I have an awful lot of respect for Jimmy. Good luck to him. I believe once he goes past me he will never be beaten,” McGrath had told the Daily Mail.

Here, we take a look at four pacers who might have something to say about that.

KAGISO RABADA

Matches: 32

Wickets: 151

If there is one man most likely to overhaul Anderson’s tally among the current crop of pacers, it is South Africa’s Kagiso Rabada. At just 23 years of age, the young Proteas star has already established himself as the pace spearhead for the Test team.

This year, he became the youngest bowler in over a century to attain the No1 ICC ranking for Test bowlers. He then broke Harbhajan Singh’s record to become the youngest bowler to claim 150 wickets in South Africa’s recent tour of Sri Lanka.

With a strike-rate less than 40 and an average just below 22, Rabada could very well be the man to break Anderson’s record in the future if he can match the Englishman’s longevity.

Rabada has age on his side.

Rabada has age on his side.

JOSH HAZLEWOOD

Matches: 40

Wickets: 151

Matching Rabada’s tally of wickets at the moment is Australia’s Josh Hazlewood. With a bowling style similar to that of his compatriot McGrath, Hazlewood has quickly established himself as one of Australia’s frontline bowlers ever since he made his Test debut at the end of 2014.

What counts against the Aussie seamer is his age – 27. While Anderson was marginally ahead of Hazlewood’s currently tally at the same age (156 wickets in 46 Tests), it will take a Herculean effort from the Australian if he is to go past the Englishman.

For Hazlewood to be in contention, he will need to be at the very top of his game for the next eight to nine years at least and that seems like too high a mountain to climb. He was recently ruled out of Australia’s upcoming Test series against Pakistan due to injury, proof of the numerous obstacles he will need to overcome to even have a shot at Anderson’s record.

Hazlewood is currently level with Rabada but is four years older.

Hazlewood is currently level with Rabada but is four years older.

STUART BROAD

Matches: 121

Wickets: 427

For long Stuart Broad has been Anderson’s new-ball partner for England and for long has he lived under the Lancashire man’s shadow. The 32-year-old is the highest wicket-taker after Anderson among the current crop of pacers in international cricket but even for him it would take something extraordinary to overhaul his team-mate’s tally.

While he does have four years on Anderson, matching Anderson’s numbers in what is the twilight of his career will be no mean feat.

To realistically overtake Anderson’s tally, Broad would need to pick up 40 odd wickets per calendar year for the next four years which sounds like a tall order. Much of it will depend on when Anderson ultimately decides to hang up his boots.

Broad has for long lived under Anderson's shadow.

Broad has for long lived under Anderson’s shadow.

DALE STEYN

Matches: 88

Wickets: 421

For long, Anderson and Steyn were neck-to-neck in the race to decide this generation’s best fast bowler. But, recurring injury troubles for the Proteas quick in the last three years has seen him fall away.

Only recently did the South African ace level Shaun Pollock’s tally of 421 Test wickets when he should have achieved this feat two years ago or so.

Right now, the end seems near for Steyn at 35 years of age and he will need a miracle to come  close to Anderson. For that to happen, he will firstly need to be given an extended run in the South African Test setup for the next two years at least and that seems unlikely given the way his body has failed to hold up in the last couple of years.

Steyn has unfortunately fallen way behind Anderson's numbers.

Steyn has unfortunately fallen way behind Anderson’s numbers.

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Graeme Swann picks India's Ravi Ashwin as the best off-spinner in Test cricket currently

Sudhir Gupta 28/08/2018
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Ravi Ashwin has come in for some praise from Graeme Swann.

Former England spin ace Graeme Swann has picked India’s Ravichandran Ashwin as the best off-spinner currently operating in Test cricket.

The senior India spinner has been in decent form in the team’s ongoing five-match series against England and picked up a seven-wicket haul in the first Test at Edgbaston.

Swann, who picked up 255 Test wickets for England in 60 matches, believes that Ashwin has the edge over Australia’s Nathan Lyon among the current crop of off-spinners.

“Ashwin is easily the best off-spinner in the world. His record in subcontinent is phenomenal and I loved the way he bowled at Edgbaston,” Swann told the Times of India.

“Australia’s Nathan Lyon has come up brilliantly and I am impressed by the fact that he has been successful back home. He hasn’t been as effective in England and I would keep Ashwin just ahead of him because of the variations he has, in addition to being brilliantly consistent,” the former England off-spinner added.

Lyon's success on Australian pitches has impressed Swann.

Lyon’s success on Australian pitches has impressed Swann.

While Ashwin is Swann’s pick in Test cricket, Afghanistan’s Rashid Khan is the Englishman’s choice for the best T20 spinner in the world.

“Yes, (Ashwin) is the best in Test cricket, but in T20s you can’t look beyond Rashid Khan. He has a fast arm, a great googly and a brilliant story as well,” he said.

“Rashid is just a very exciting cricketer and I would love to see him be successful in Tests as well, as and when he gets to play regularly.”

England, meanwhile, have struggled to replace Swann’s quality in the spin department ever since his retirement and the former off-spinner believes Moeen Ali can fill that hole if he can get his confidence back.

“Yes, we have struggled, but Moeen is a good spinner, but I think he doesn’t believe he is a good spinner. Unless he gets the belief back with the red ball, he will never be able to do the job in Tests. He needs to have more revs on the ball to get the batsmen out,” Swann stated.

England and India will lock horns in the fourth and penultimate Test of the five-match series at Southampton on Thursday.

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Ravi Ashwin's fitness under the scanner as India hit the nets at Southampton ahead of fourth Test

Sudhir Gupta 28/08/2018
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Ashwin (r) did not take part in the team's nets session on Monday.

Virat Kohli and his men got down to work in earnest in preparation for the fourth Test between England and India which will get underway at Southampton on Thursday.

Having suffered losses in Edgbaston and Lord’s, India had bounced back into contention in the five-match series by winning the third Test at Trent Bridge by 203 runs.

On Monday, Kohli and the rest of the team conducted their first net session at the Ageas Bowl upon their arrival in Southampton.

Seen hard at work at the nets was young Prithvi Shaw who has been given a maiden Test call up for India.

There was some cause of concern for Indian fans with off-spinner Ravichandran Ashwin not coming down to bowl in the training session. The senior Indian spinner had suffered a groin injury in the third Test at Trent Bridge and it seems he has not completely recovered as of yet. Ashwin spent time with the team physio on the sidelines and did some light batting practice.

Ravindra Jadeja was seen bowling in the nets though the Indian team management is reportedly still hopeful of Ashwin’s recovery before the start of the fourth Test.

🙌 Hello from The Ageas Bowl. #ENGvIND

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Pacers Jasprit Bumrah, Ishant Sharma, Umesh Yadav and Mohammed Shami were a busy lot in the nets on Monday while all-rounder Hardik Pandya too got in a decent workout.

The visitors are fighting against history as they look to storm their way back into the five-match series. Only one team in history has ever come back from 2-0 down to win a Test series 3-2 and that was Don Bradman’s Australia which completed the feat against England all the way back in 1936-37.

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